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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  June 23, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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lawrence o'donnell". >> how did chris christie talk bobby jindal in to running so she wouldn't be the lowest governor? >> as soon as they take approval numbers he might be number one. >> always possible. >> thank you. south carolina republican senator strom thurmond served in the united states senate until he was 100 years old. the only senator in history to reach that age while still in office. throughout his long career, strom thurmond, staunch segregationist did everything he could to stand in the way of
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racial progress equality in america. today in south carolina, his son took a strong stand against his father's legacy. >> i have often wondered what is my purpose here in the senate. >> pressure, quite frankly, has been building. >> hundreds of people are gathered at the south carolina capital. >> bring it down! bring it down! >> i'm proud to take a stand and no longer be silent. >> it shouldn't fly there. it shouldn't fly anywhere. >> i'm calling for the removal of the confederate flag from all state places here in the commonwealth of virginia. >> wal-mart, sears, ebay, kmart, say they will no longer sell confederate flag products. >> what some see as a symbol of 0 hate other see it as an important part of history. >> on fox news they couldn't understand if it was not the
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right time to talk about guns or racism. >> my solution is if you hate the flag why not make it yours. the first black designer to make the flag fashionable wins. >> how about take the flag down now. how about that? okay? >> i'm proud to be on the right side of history regarding the removal of the symbol of racism and bigotry from the state house. >> south carolina's strom thurmond was one of the most prominent segregationist of the 20th century. he was elected to the senate in 1933 and governor in 1946. having run as a segregationist democrat back when they controlled most of southern politics. he ran for president in 1948 on the so-called states rights democrat ticket with a platform of segregation now. segregation forever.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, there are not enough troops in the army to force us southern people to break down segregation and admit to [ bleep ] race in to our theaters, in to our pools, in to our theaters, in to our homes and churches. >> strom thurmond was elected as a democrat in 1954 and changed parties in 1964 and remained in the republican party the rest of his long life. he left the senate in 2003 at the age of 100. in his final years in the senate only moment of relevance was his 100th birthday party where trent lott got carried away in his praise for strom thurmond and he said this. >> i want to say this about my state, when strom thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. we're proud of him.
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and if the rest of the country had followed our lead we wouldn't have had these problems over all of these years. >> days later trent lott was forced to leave for retro actively endorsed the segregationist candidate for 123459 strom thurmond. he had four children and one secret child with an african-american maid. it was only revealed after he died. on the floor of the senate in south carolina another senator thurmond rose to speak to the controversy of the hour there. senator paul thurmond is strom thurmond's youngest son and the only thurmond family member in south carolina politics. >> mr. president, fellow colleagues, i ask that you lend me your ears, your mind, and
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your heart for a few minutes. the loss of my friend an colleague, senator clementa pinckney needed time to mourn the loss of my friend and fellow charlestonians. vigil that senator kimpson and i attended was powerful and beautiful. after thought and prayer to try to find the words to maybe make a difference with you and with others. >> for the next few minutes, the south carolina senate chamber took on the dimensions of shakespearean drama with the son stepping in to the light to do battle with the father. the father who spoke as an elected official in that same chamber 82 years ago. the father whose statue stands on the grounds of the building. the father whose name was not mentioned by senator thurmond today.
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>> i think the time is right and the ground is fertile for us to make progress as a state and to come together and remove the confederate battle flag from prominent statue outside of the state house and put it in a museum. it's time to acknowledge our past, atone for our sins and work toward a better future. that future must be built on symbols of peace, love and unity. that future cannot be built on symbols of war, hate, and divisiveness. >> senator thurmond did not do the mandatory political bow to the confederate flag that other conservative politicians always do. he did not echo governor nikki haley. he used the credibility that the thurmond name has with southern
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conservatives and all the credibility of his ancestors who served in the confederate army to discredit everything that flag stands for. >> some say the confederate flag represents the heritage and ancestry. let's talk about the heritage aspect. my family has been in south carolina for many generations. i was told that my great grandfather was with general lee when he surrendered. i'm aware of my heritage, but my appreciation for the things that my forbearers accomplished to make my life better doesn't mean that i must believe they always made the right decisions, and for the life of me, i will never understand how anyone could fight a civil war, based in part, on the desire to continue a practice of slavery.
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think about it for just a second. our ancestors were fighting to keep human beings as slaves and continue the unimaginable acts that occur when someone is held against their will. i am not proud of this heritage. these practices were with inhumane and were wrong, wrong, wrong. >> when sons follow their fathers in to an occupation, they find themselves wondering why they are there. today senator paul thurmond of south carolina found that purpose. >> i have often wondered what is my purpose here in the senate. i have asked god to guide me and strengthen me and i've parade i will be able to make a difference for this state.
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i have prayed i will leave this place better for the future generations. i'm proud to take a stand and no longer be silent. i'm proud to be on the right side of history, regarding the removal of the symbol of racism and bigotry from the state house. >> joining us now pulitzer prize winner isabel wilkerson, the author of "the warmth of other suns." joining us msnbc contributor and alan jenkins the executive director of the opportunity agenda and former associate counsel. >> we lived long enough to see hell freeze over and strom thurmond's son repudiate his life's work. i think this is a karmic moment for our country.
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the last four years we have spent looking at memorializing or commemorating the civil war which of course south carolina was the first state to secede. south carolina is where the first shots were fired and the past week we have seen there's this massacre on the eve of juneteenth, which is a sacred day which represents the last -- the freeing of the last enslaved people in texas in the united states. that occurred 2 1/2 years after the emancipation proclamation. so this is history coming full circle. it's an important turn about in our country. >> i want to contrast what senator thurmond said today with what nikki haley said yesterday. let's listen to governor haley. >> for many people in our state the flag stands for traditions that are nobel. traditions of history, heritage and ancestry.
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the hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in charleston has a sick, twisted view of the flag. in no way does he reflect the people of our state who respect and many ways revere it. those south carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity and duty. they see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. >> senator thurmond ripped apart that respect, integrity and duty. >> ripped it apart and showed the kind of leadership from frankly -- not only a white politician but as you so -- so skillfully pointed out, the son of the most -- one of the most famous southern segregationist of the 20th century and the longest serving senator in terms of 100 years old. he showed leadership with that
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speech and was very honest about saying, what is my purpose? i think he found his purpose in that moment on the floor to repudiate, once and for all, as i would hope that all republican politicians were to do and white republican politicians would do today to say the flag is not about heritage, pride or anything else, it is about a stain on our national soil in terms of treason, slavery. it respects the opposite of freedom. it respects slavery and treason and session. to say that they had an opportunity to give that speech. it took senator paul thurmond to say that speech. it's really remarkable. i'm struck by -- >> allen jenkins, the thing i kept waiting for never happened, where's the moment where the white conservative politician
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does the respectful bow toward the flag and uses the words that speech writers put in nikki haley's statement about the flag saying for some people it is about duty, respects, honor, these things. he would have none of that. >> it's remarkable. let me take a moment and acknowledge the souls lost and their families at the church mother emanuel in charleston. these are folks, this relates here, those these are folks that embody the highest values in our country of welcoming and inclusion and now we see with their families forgiveness. when it comes to the confederate flag, people of good will have not been paying attention. the flag can only be defended when people of good will are not paying attention and now they are paying attention. what is remarkable is young senator thurmond is bringing the full set of values in the way he is talking about this and a way we can see with the governor. i welcome her statement that the
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flag should come down. it's remarkable to talk about the sins of the past, to talk about the fact that the flag has always been about hate and the inferiority of black folks. it's a remarkable development. >> isabel, where he says i can love and honor my ancestors but it doesn't mean i must believe they always made the right decisions. >> that's a powerful acceptance of the full weight of history and the full weight of what his family has experienced and what they stood for. it's also important to recognize that when we speak about issues of race and all of the terrors that have occurred in our country's history, particularly in the south, we often forget these are people who are not necessarily evil in and of
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themselves but the actions are evil and the regime itself was evil. there must be a way we can find to accept the humanity of ridges, despite the horrors of the regime and come together somehow, find a way to come together to recognize, to push forward and to see where we can go in the future with this. >> we will have to take a break here. everyone stay with us. coming up, is dylann roof racist or insane? what's the difference? a psychiatrist will join us with his answers. later, some of the candidates running for president have had a difficult time addressing what happened in charleston and what we should do with the confederate flag. the beast was as long as the boat. for seven hours, we did battle. until i said... you will not beat... meeeeee!!! greg. what should i do with your fish? gary.
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mississippi republican house speaker called for removing the confederate emblem from the
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mississippi state flag. democrats and republicans in tennessee are calling for a bust to be removed from the state house and united states majority leader mitch mcconnell joined the kentucky nominee for governor in calling for the removal of a statue of jefferson davis from the kentucky state capital rotunda. coming up, we have video of the arrest of dylann roof. let's just say, getting arrested for killing those nine people in that church looks very different from what happens when you get arrested for selling illegal cigarettes in new york city.
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we're back with our panel. isabel, your reaction to the states, what is sweeping through. mississippi, tennessee, what is your reaction to this now sweeping reconsider ration of this confederate insignia? >> to me it's the final continuation of this battle that's been going on since the time of the civil war. these states are finally entering the 21st century and becoming more reflective of the rest of the country. the final, you might say unfolding of the south in to the rest of the country to be reflective over what others in america view, how others in america view the symbol, symbol
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that is been connected so long with intolerance and with the violent regime that existed in the south for so long. >> is it your sense that some of the discussions we have heard this week, some people comparing it to nazi paraphernalia or islamic state flags, the confederate flag was a flag used in war against the united states of america. are those comparisons holding do you think? >> for black people in the country absolutely. >> that's the argument. that's the sharpest version of the argument that's visited against the confederate flag. >> it is a symbol of hate. it's a symbol of, frankly, eugenics. the founders were specific. the origins of the flag -- many
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speeches were given that specifically state what the flag symbolizes in terms of racial inferiority of black people versus whites and treason. it's -- then we have spent the 20th century trying to whitewash, so to speak that origin story but it is very true. i think the comparisons are apt and the pace of change in the last week has been remarkable. all of a sudden everyone is falling over themselves to stake out a position, although not as strong as senator thurmond today but to stake out a position to get rid of the flag. it is unfortunate it took the murder of nine black people in mother emanuel to get to this point but it is stunning the pace of change. let us not substitute symbolism for actual structural and policy changes that will improve the lives of black people in this country as well. >> it seems as soon as the argument turned to the flag, the
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flag that could not defend itself. once the focus was on it, people are like, oh, what are we doing? why is this thing here. >> he had his photo taken with that flag for a reason. because of what it stands for. people who had not been paying attention suddenly had to pay attention and acknowledge the true meaning of the flag. i want to build on what dorian said. we have to look in addition to the symbolism of the flag. we need to look at policies that determine people's opportunity and equal participation in society. there are a lot of those in the housing context. the u.s. supreme court has a case right now, waiting for a decision about whether subtle discrimination violates fair housing act f. the answer is no, i hope people will be as quick
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to repair the fair housing act as they have been to call for the flag to come down. >> chris rock put out a provocative tweet a few days ago, he said this is how you arrest a white man who shot nine people and this is how you arrest a black man for selling cigarettes. he showed a picture of dylann roof arrested peacefully beside eric garner being arrested and choked to death in the process. i want to get to dylann roof now. the story of how he got his gun and how he got arrested. eight days after his 21st birthday, law enforcement officials say that dylann roof went to a gun store in columbia, south carolina, 25 miles from his house and legally bought a .45 caliber glock handgun. they said he used the birthday money his parents gave him to buy the gun. he was legally able to buy the gun even though he had a pending drug charge. federal law only prohibits sale of firearms for indictment of felony. according to my police, 67 days
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later, dylann roof walked in to mother emanuel ame church in charleston with that gun and shot and killed nine people. today, police in north carolina released dash cam video showing the arrest of dylann roof for the murder rampage at mother emanuel ame church. the only sound on that video came from the commercial radio station playing inside of the police car where the dash cam was. that radio and stuff consisted primarily of commercials. we will show you that video without the distracting sound from inside the police car. that is dylann roof's car pulled to a stop after a short pursuit by police vehicles. we're going to see very professional, very calm police work here. they know they are pursuing a suspect in a case of murdering nine people. this is how they approach that car.
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there are guns drawn, but immediately the gun is holstered when the officer who's going to approach and speak to him decides it's safe enough to do that. now you see other officers responding to the scene, keeping a distance and elegance, as an attorney this is a text bookcase of careful and professional, respectful even arrest procedure we're looking at here. >> that's right. it is what you want to see. once police determine they are not in danger, the public is not in danger, you want that kind of calm arrest to happen. unfortunately, we don't see that very often in the african-american community when it is black folks who are being arrested. so you think about the mckinney pool case in particular. kids in bathing suits clearly had no weapons, posed no threat and the way in which they were treated. that's not what every police officer does but we see it way too often.
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>> as we see this go on, they have patted him down. he's handcuffed now. it doesn't get anymore eventful than this. you can understand -- chris rock's reaction to this is not surprising. >> it's not surprising. i have to be honest, lawrence, i can help but be filled with rage watching this. the discrepancy between the fact that if you are black and selling a cigarette, trying to swim, you have a toy gun in your hand, shopping in a wal-mart store, the immediate reaction is force or in many cases lethal force. this is an example of the police seeing the humanity in what is especially a domestic terrorist as they arrest him. the discrepancy in that is absolutely maddening. >> we will take a break here. stay with us. coming up, that question about dylann roof, is he racist or is he insane?
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some think that insane is the whole story and you don't have to think about race at all in this case. we'll discuss that coming up. burns on my watch! try alka-seltzer heartburn reliefchews. they work fast and don't taste chalky. mmm...amazing. i have heartburn. alka-seltzer heartburn reliefchews. enjoy the relief. if you have moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis like me... and you're talking to a rheumatologist about a biologic this is humira. this is humira helping to relieve my
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this evening in washington there was a moment of silence for the people killed at mother emanuel ame church. >> clementa pinckney, tywanza sanders, cynthia hurd, the reverend sharonda singleton,
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ethel lance, susie jackson, daniel simmons, sr., the rev depayne middleton-doctor. will you join us in a moment of silence? we'll be right back. ♪ i built my business with passion. but i keep it growing by making every dollar count. that's why i have the spark cash card from capital one. i earn unlimited 2% cash back on everything i buy for my studio. ♪
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movie theater, hinckley and this guy roof they are all the same person. psychotic sociopaths. >> we are joined by forensic psychologist karl kirkland and a fellow at the center for justice michael german. she a former fbi agent who infiltrated white supremacist groups during his 16-year career at the fbi. karl kirkland a couple of questions. can you see it in his eyes? >> i cannot judge that from the data that i have. what i can say is a psychotic sociopath is an oxymoron. they are mutually exclusive. the law in south carolina, the law in alabama, essentially says if you are psychotic that it falls in to a category of not guilty, or in south carolina the same legal conclusion or guilty
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but mentally ill. a sociopath is a different math all together. it is excluded in both states by statute. so they are not allowed as a mental state defense. >> karl kirkland i have read this manifesto of his and it is quite awful. but every horrible concept in it was held by hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people in america in 1960. these were not considered unusual thoughts, extremely abhorrent thoughts in 1960. the mental health question becomes -- does the passage of time alone make relatively normal thoughts within certain communities insane? >> no. the insanity, first and foremost is a legal conclusion.
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the role of a forensic psychologist is to bring data forth for a judge or jury to make that decision. the market has changed. the definition is the same. the document like that might be used to be evidence to look at planning behavior, criminal intent, but while i cannot comment specifically on this case, i would imagine this kind of document would be useful in the criminal analysis of behavior which does look at planning behavior and intention. >> michael german, having infiltrated these kinds of groups with this kind of thinking, this stuff -- it all reads as boilerplate white supremacy, straight out of the 1960s. >> exactly. in part -- what you have to understand about this movement,
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it is quite fragmented. there are a number of different philosophies and theologists used to justify this racial hatred. one of the interesting things i find in the document is it is not just boilerplate. it's not that he is cutting and pasting from these racist websites but rather analyzing the decisions of the different groups and deciding which he agrees with and which he doesn't. >> he is generous to asians at a certain point in his diatribe here. >> even the discussion of jews. i think most white supremacist groups would like at this as quite misguided. it shows there is a deliberation and certainly a premeditation, acknowledging this is a political act. he's about to engage in. and justifying that action and even justifying the targets. he speaks of charleston as a city that had a significant african-american population.
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>> isabel wilkerson, what i kept being struck by as i read through this thing, as crazy and awful as it reads now, people were saying these things outloud, plainly in the united states, no one called them insane in the 1950s. certainly well in to the 1960s. >> this was standard acceptable believes for you know, the majority of the time that our country has been in existence. it is relatively new to have this more open and more tolerant view of african-americans in particular in our country. this was the way the country's been for most of its history and he's respecting the messages that have been passed down through the generations. of course it is more extremists now. the country actually -- we live in a country in which there are messages that and assumptions and stereotypes that undergrid much of our public discourse,
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dog whistle politics is -- draws on that. in fact it depends on that in order to win some elections. so this runs through many parts of our country and our society. >> michael german, your experience up close with them. were you feeling these people are insane or persuadable in extreme directions? >> one things that distracted me when i was invited in, which is every meeting they give me written materials, books are published on these issues. this ideology did not go away when the civil rights act was passed. it has persisted and there are still groups today that are engaged in our political system that promote these views. so it's not something that ever disappeared from our culture and there is a rationality to it, as offensive as it is to most ears and it is not the rantings of a crazy person but rather almost
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to go in to the ghetto and fight. i chose charleston because it is most historic city in my state and at the one time had the highest ratio of blacks to whites in the country. we have no skin heads. this is his complaint. terrible situation. we no skin heads no real kkk and no one doing anything but talking on the internet. well, someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world and i guess that has to be me. karl kirkland, as a forensic psychologist, when you read that passage, this is the spot where he seems to be making the decision to go in to that church. >> again, that's the type of reasoning, as manifested in a person's writings that give you entry in to their thought process. the criminal responsibility for an evaluation would look at that as one of the best sources of information about motives,
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feelings, contextual, variables that lead to decision making. that is a reflection of not a mental illness but a very >> isabel wilkerson, for a country that was allowed to believe by 1970 this kind of thinking had been erased that it had been removed from a culture. of course it couldn't happen that quickly, that easily. it wasn't like pulling a tooth. it has obviously lived on in a viral state to manifest itself this way. using literally the same words that were used in 1960. >> absolutely. the same words that would have been used in the 1860s. this is a long-running narrative, a long-running script
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that has been undergirding much attention and conflict and the people who had been subjugated from our history. i emphasize this is new this idea of viewing people as equals. this is very knew, the idea of incorporating african-americans in to the entire fabric of our country. we are only going back a couple of generations to get to the 1960s. the civil rights acts of the 1960s that began to codify this new vision of what the united states could be. anyone born before 1964 in many respects was not born in to democracy because an entire population was not permitted to vote. this is actually still a work if progress. >> another passage from the manifesto. "segregation was not a bad thing but a defensive measure. it did not exist to hold back negros but to protect us from them. i mean that in multiple ways.
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not only did it protect us from having to interact with them, and from being physically harmed by them, but it protected us from being brought down to their level. integration has done nothing but bring whites down to level of brute animals. the best example of this is obviously our school system." that comes from a high school dropout. >> right. you know, this, again, is this idea of white victimization is a theme that runs through the white supremacist philosophy. the idea we have to return though this era which is why this confederate flag is so important. why the rhodesian flag is so important. why the south african flag was so important that it is a history they look to as sort of a golden era they want to return to. >> we have to take a break and will be right back. thank you for joining us tonight. coming up, why have some presidential candidates had such a struggle in trying to talk about all of this? next.
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this. advil. some presidential candidates have struggled with how to address the massacre in charleston, including the racist motivation of the killer. santorum saw it as an attack on christians not african-americans. but one candidate ben carson had no confusion about what had happened. in an op-ed written over the weekend and published in "usa today" on monday, dr. carson said, not everything is about race in this country but when it is about race than it just is. there are people who are claiming they can lead this country, who dare not call this tragedy an act of racism, a hate crime for fear of offending a particular segment of the electorate. so let's stop the interpretive dance around the obvious. it's the sickness of racism, a spiritual sickness that distorts the mind and heart and causes irrational and baseless fear and
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hatred in people of all colors. racism was once epidemic in america, but through struggle, sacrifice, soul-searching and meaningful social change, we have made much progress. clearly, the struggle is far from finished, and we must own up to that fact and that challenge." isabel, dr. carson has finally made some sense. >> i think for any african-american, african-americans in general by virtue of being visible minorities feel this especially deeply being these were targeted by virtue of their race. it makes perfect sense for him to come forward to state the obvious. i'd also say when we were speaking about the arrest of dylann roof who -- it's important to note he surrendered peacefully, but the issue is he was given the opportunity to surrender peacefully.
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that was not the opportunity given, accorded to tamir rice who was 12 years old, shot on site by police officers. that was not the opportunity given to a man who was a motorist who had been stopped for a traffic violation and was shot by the police officer when he was told to get his registration and was shot instead. he ended up asking the officer why did you shoot me? very politely and calmly asked this police officer why he did that. this is an example of the disparities that in some ways many of us are responding to and in this case this presidential candidate is as well. >> isabelle, here in the studio during a commercial break after we showed the arrest video, dorian and alan kept talking about it. it was the segment that could not end in this room because it was so striking to see that
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approach. as a lawyer who worked on these issues, we were remarking on that moment where the police officer is approaching the car for the first time. his gun's drawn but before he gets to the window to talk to him he has enough confidence, enough trust in whoever is behind the wheel of that car that he puts the gun back in its holster before he begins the conversation. >> it's remarkable. you see them looking in the car, the police officers and seeing someone who's life is worth preserving, if they can. unfortunately, so many people of color don't get that second chance. including those who committed no crime or are suspected of no crime. seeing the humanity in others is the thing that we most want for all of our law enforcement to be doing. >> i want to be careful -- i'm not engaging in a criticism of
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what those police officers are doing. what they are doing is model police work. it is careful police work. they are using their judgment. during a fascinating thing is that we see the moment of trust where they have decided before talking to him that he see someone who we understand and we can trust and we are going to put these guns back in the holster. >> trust that -- that assumption of trust and that faith and humanity of the person who we know is a murderer. >> they know that's why they are pulling him over. and a video and a picture is worth a thousand words, lawrence. to see for months and months and months now we have seen so many videos of what happens to black men and women when police engage with them who don't have that trust and don't give them that opportunity to be presumed innocent the same way. as you said the humanity of the person suspected and we know
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murdered nine parishioners at mother emanuel. he had a different set of opportunities than the average black person in the country. it is so stunningly remarkable to watch the difference in the videos. >> isabel, the video has been teaching america lessons about itself and here's another surprising lesson we are learning from this particular dash cam video tonight. >> i think we have been inundated, overwhelmed actually, grown weary from month after month after month from ferguson to staten island, cleveland and dayton and to continuing places, to north charleston not that long ago. that we have been reminded of the different treatment of the lack of recognition of the humanity of african-americans, the visible minority. i think that our goal, what one would hope is we could see that
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humanity. what we would hope that it would help lead us, given the role the south has played in all of this would help to lead us toward a brighter future when it comes to how we get along. >> isabel wilkerson gets the last word. honor to have you all with me tonight. thank you all. >> thank you, lawrence. flag day. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. the party that fought for the union in the 1860s and backed civil rights in the 1960s has been caught offsides in the racial politics of the 21st century. in the pas